William image

Jack Priestley’s Family History

This site is a work-in-progress. There is a massive amount to cover. I have included both male and female lines. Keep coming back for more.
I have numbered the generations working backwards from my own as (1)

Tootle Tree


 JOHN REDFERN was the son of the labourer William Redfern and Harriot Kirkham. He was born in Quarnford, in the Peak District of Staffordshire, and baptised there on 28 September 1828.


John was eldest of eleven children, the youngest of whom was born after his own daughter. Since all of them were baptised in Quarnford, it seems he grew up there.

The main centre of population is Flash, the highest village in Britain.

In the 1941 census, most of the family are at ‘Back oth Cross’, Alstonefield. The chapelry of Quarnford lay in the civil parish of Alstonefield, whose village is 10 miles away.

John’s mother is listed as a farmer. John at 12 heads the list of children. The other five range from 10-year-old Harriott to Thomas at 5 months. Also with them are 30-year-old Martha Milward, a silk spinner, and 5-year-old Isaac Milward, who is presumably her son.

Back oth Cross is the road running west from Flash past the Wesleyan chapel.  The farm may be the same place as Cross Side, where his mother was living at the 1881 census. To reach it from Flash, you turn on to the top or back road leading west from the church, go past the chapel and down a steep hill. The area called The Cross is near the top of the hill and Back o’ th’ Cross seems to be the houses further down, before Greens Farm at the bottom.

John’s father is absent from home, as he was in the next two censuses. Evidently their small farm was unable to support this large family. William Redfern worked at labouring jobs in other parishes within a 10-mile radius of Flash.

As the oldest of the children John must have carried a heavy responsibility, helping his mother with farm work and the raising of his numerous siblings.

He became an agricultural labourer, like his father.

At the age of 22, in the 1851 census, he was an agricultural labourer still living with his mother and 8 younger siblings at Back o’ th’ Cross. Quarnford.

The following year, 1852, he was resident in Wildboarclough, 2 miles away over the border in Cheshire, where he married Ruth Chappell of that parish.

Wildboarclough is where his father was living in the 1851 census.



RUTH CHAPPELL was born in Middleton, Cheshire, around 1823-4. She was the daughter of James Chappell and Ann Beaman . Her father, like John’s, was a labourer.

The 1841 census for this family is curiously spelt.

CottageHouse,  Wildboarclough
An Chapel           60    Ind (Independent means)
Rooth Chapel    17
Mareyan Chapel   3
Sarah Chapel        8 months

Doubtless there were other children who were out at work.

At the time of the 1851 census Ruth was 28 and unmarried, living with her parents and two of their grandchildren at 4 House Mill Bank, Wildboarclough. She was not in paid employment. She was still in Wildboarclough the following year, when she married.

4 House Mill Bank Wildboarclough:
Chappel James        Head   M   65   Labourer  Wincle, Cheshire,
Chappel Ann            Wife     M  71                       Gibraltar
Chappel Ruth          Dau       U  28                       Wildboarclough
Chappel Mary A          G/Dau  U  13                       Wildboarclough
Chappel James            G/Son   U   2                        Wildboarclough


The following year John Redfern and Ruth Chappell were married in Prestbury on 13 April1852. Prestbury was the civil parish in which Wildboarclough lay. The couple may have been required to marry there, rather than in Wildboarclough, just as John’s parents had married in Alstonefield, rather than Quarnford.

Since their daughter Annie was baptised in October the same year, Ruth must already have been pregnant.

Marriage solemnized at ‘The Parish Church’ in the ‘Parish’ of ‘Prestbury’ in the County of ‘Chester’
13 April 1852
John REDFERN, 23, Bachelor, Labourer, Wildboarclough, William REDFERN, Labourer
Ruth CHAPPELL, 28, Spinster, …, Wildboarclough, James CHAPPELL, Labourer
married by Banns by W. Pearson
both signed with their X mark
Witnesses: James? Hartley and Hannah? Hartley (her X mark)

There is an interesting pattern of younger men marrying older women.


Their eldest child Ann, known as Annie, was born in Wildboarclough, but baptised at John’s home parish of Quarnford in October 1852.

The family moved to Manchester before 1859, when another daughter Ruth was born.

In the 1861 census, the family are living at 11 Unity St, in the parish of St Andrews, Manchester. John is now a carter, following a career switch his father made.

REDFERN   John Head M M 32 Carter Staffordshire – Flash
REDFERN   Ruth Wife M F 36 Cheshire – Wildbore Clough
REDFERN Ann Dau F 8 Scholar Cheshire – Wildbore Clough
REDFERN Ruth Dau F 2 Scholar Lancashire – Manchester
REDFERN Maria Dau F 2m Lancashire – Manchester

Some carters did local work; others transported goods over longer routes between towns, or between the country and the town. There would certainly have been no shortage of carting work in a rural township like Quarnford. There were many connections between the Moorlands and Manchester, and a number of families had farms in North Staffordshire with milk businesses in Manchester. A carter would be a good occupation to have, serving both areas.

John’s occupation might also explain his movements through Staffordshire, Manchester and Lancashire.

Three more children were baptised at St Andrew Ancoats, in Manchester: Ruth and Maria on 24 February 1861 and John Thomas on 26 July 1863. It was assumed at first that Ruth and Maria must be twins, but the census shows they were born two years apart. Evidently Ruth was not baptised as a baby. Possibly the family had lost touch with a church when they first moved to Manchester.

In the 1871 census, the family were living at 43 Chapel Street, St Clements, Manchester.

In May 1871 the unmarried Ann had a son baptised at St Andrew Ancoats, Manchester.

Around 1873, the family moved from Manchester to Burnley.


Annie married William Tootle in December 1877, in Habergham Eaves, Burnley. We can assume the Redfern’s were living in that area.

The 1881 census shows John still working as a carter, aged 52, and living at 27 Dale Street, Habergham Eaves. His wife Ruth and their son John Thomas, a wheelwright, are in the house. There is also their grandson William Redfern, aged 11, who was Annie’s illegitimate child. He had evidently not gone to live with his mother after her marriage. Ruth and Maria have not been found in this census.

By the 1891 census the family have moved to Willow Street.  William is now stated to be their son.

1891 Census. 55 Willow Street, Stoneyholme, Habergham Eaves, Burnley
John Redfern      Head M        62   Carter                 Staffs, Quarnford
Ruth Redfern      Wife  M        66                               Cheshire, Wildboar Clough
William Redfern     Son    S         21    Grocer’s Asst    Lancs, Manchester
Jane S Redfern      Grand-daur 2
Lancs, Burnely

Jane’s full name was Jane Spedding Redfern. We have not yet found whose daughter she was.

The Redfern family. Annie is in the centre of the back
row, with her son William at the front.


Ruth died in Burnley in the third quarter of 1897 at the age of 72.

Edith Tootle, born 1908, remembers the Redferns having a shop ‘right down the end’ where Howard Street runs into Coal Clough Lane, Burnley.

In the 1901 census we find John Redferne, retired carter, living with his daughter Annie, her husband William Tootle and their large family at 37 Nairne Street, Burnley.


John died in the last quarter of 1905 at the age of 77.





Tootle Tree